Diane told us how she threw away her reward card as she remembered the money spent on gambling.
We asked what they liked about the game. Jack told us that, unlike other games, Fu Dao Le was interactive. He also told us that he liked games where he could touch the screen to interact with the game and by pressing on a Cherub on the screen who started laughing.
Jack and Diane told how they had won “black cards” at Sugarhouse, meaning that they each lost over $10,000 at this casino. Diane also said that she threw away her reward card because it reminded her of the money spent on gambling. We had more questions, but it was clear that Diane was no longer listening to us. “She’s in the zone,” Jack said.
The “zone” underlies Schüll’s theory regarding the success and expansion of slot machines. She heard this word repeatedly for 15 years in her research – players told her over and over again that they played to get into the “zone” where they no longer needed to think.
To understand what the zone is, you need to understand what ‘flow’ is – it is the concept developed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that describes a state of hyper concentration. Time runs faster during ‘flow’ (hours seem like minutes) or slower (reactions can be immediate) and the mind reaches a state of euphoria. Schüll describes in his book 4 criteria of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow: “First, each moment of activity must have its own goal; second, there must be clear rules for achieving that goal; third, actions must offer immediate feedback; finally fourth, tasks must achieve the goal.” Slots, throughout their history, easily met the first 2 criteria; after lowering volatility, they met the third criteria; when the multi-line system, infinite bonus rounds and mini-games were introduced, they met all 4 criteria.
Back in the Bally Technologies Showroom, we decided to try the Duck Dynasty game. “There have never been as many slot machines in the world as there are now,” a brand representative told us. “Not just in the US, but all over the world. Scientific Games’ slot machines are already sold in 50 countries on six continents. The company has also started selling its products in Greece, where gambling has recently been legalized.
The industry is also prepared to see a decrease in the number of middle-aged consumers and competition from free-to-play mobile games. “People have a lot of free time and there are numerous iPhone apps for them to waste their time.” At the Bally Technologies warehouse, we were also confided, “You know how to get a lot of younger consumers to play games? Give them a phone.”